Dover is one of the most important little towns in the United Kingdom, we can say at least for three things: amazing White Cliffs, a charming castle full of history, and last but not least, it is only 34 km far from the coast of France.
Last week I decided that I needed to escape the busy city of London and just find something less hectic to rest for a couple of days. “Rest” just in a manner of speaking because by the end of my two days’ escape (little spoiler) I walked something like 45 km!
Anyway, I took advantage of the fact that I had a free Friday and I started the weekend early. The alarm was set way too early, but when it comes to travel I want to take the most out of every day. I arrived in Dover early and, unfortunately it was super cloudy and foggy. I asked for a pretty café in the town centre and a nice local woman suggested me La Salle Verte.
With a yummy hot chocolate in one hand and some local guides in the other, I planned my two days in Dover.
I still had too many hours between me and the check-in in the hostel. I grabbed my not-so-light backpack and climbed up to the hill where the Dover Castle is located. If it wouldn’t had been for the fog, I could have had such an amazing view in front of me, but it’s England so we have to be okay with the fog, right?
The castle opens its gates at 10am and you’ll need around 3/4 hours to visit all its tunnels and towers so I recommend to arrive early, so you will have the other half of the day to explore something else!
On the surface, Dover Castle is England’s largest castle, defending the Kent coastline over the centuries.
One of the most interesting things about this place is its hidden side. Going deep inside the chalk rocks of the cliffs, there are around 5 km of tunnels. With tours, you can explore some of them, but it is a labyrinth and not every tunnel is open to the public. You could really stay there for hours if you would happen to take a random tunnel, and you don’t want to do that!
The tunnels are not the only great thing about the castle. Its property is huge, full of hidden spots and ruins of an old church and walls. Be sure to explore every corner of this amazing English Heritage site, and maybe you will meet some cute sheeps on your way.
Once your visit is done, if you are a photography lover as I am, you will probably want a view of the castle. If so, just go back to the main road, turn right and then go down Upper Road for about 15 minutes. After some walking, you will reach an amazing spot where you will have a great view of the back of the castle.
After all that walking with the heavy backpack, that view was even more beautiful.
Going down Upper Road will take you really close to the White Cliffs of Dover.
In fact, the entrance for the cars is from this street. You will have to pay to park the car, but don’t worry, it is really cheap.
If you are not there with your car and you love to walk, the quickest way to go up the cliffs from the Town Centre is to go near the harbour, especially to Athol Terrace, and just keep walking. You will find many stairs that will take you just at the top of the cliffs. My hostel was just under the Dover Castle, near this street, so I was about 10 minutes far from the amazing beauty that are the cliffs.
You don’t want to walk and you don’t have a car? You can take a bus for about 3 pounds, and it will take you up there in 5 minutes!
I took the bus and went to St Margaret’s at Cliffe and started walking back towards Dover. There is a private street that goes towards the Lighthouse, where you find only houses and, you’re not supposed to use it, but I didn’t know it when I arrived there, so I kindly asked to use that street to walk towards the lighthouse and there was no problem. Usually you should reach the lighthouse walking all the way from the Visitor Centre of the White Cliffs of Dover.
I was pretty excited when I first saw the South Foreland Lighthouse from the outside. I never saw a lighthouse before, only in movies, so it was a pretty beautiful moment.
Belonging to the Victorian style, the lighthouse is the perfect image of a seaside landscape.
When I reached the beginning (or end) of the cliffs, the end of the day was close. I was less than two hours away from the sunset. I actually planned, and hoped, to take beautiful photos during the sunset, but the clouds decided to do otherwise. I was still blessed to be up there, all alone, in such a stunning place.
I was alone yes, but I didn’t feel lonely at all. That place gives you such a peaceful feeling.
You walk down the grassland with a stunning view over the English Channel and you can’t help but feel grateful to be alive and to be there in that exact moment. The only noises were the crushing of the waves on the cliffs and the song of seagulls. Just nature and nothing else for kilometres and kilometres.
Between the South Foreland Lighthouse and the end of the White Cliffs, you will need to walk for more than 4 km, about 1 hours and 30 minutes if you stop to enjoy the view every now and then!
I really suggest you to go and walk down this natural masterpiece, together with friends or family but also by yourself.
It is an amazing place to relax, meditate and just think about your life, your future or the amazing world we live in. I felt a big connection with that place and I will go back for sure when I will have the chance.
It is hard to find such peaceful places these days. Everything is always so loud and chaotic and being surrounded by silence is rare in our era. Do you enjoy silence too sometime?
One last beautiful thing to do in Dover is to climb up to the western hills of Dover and reach the Western Heights.
The Western Heights are one of the most impressive fortifications of Britain. You can see the walls of this historical place during the day and if you check when they do tours, you will have a chance to see also the inside of it! I didn’t have the chance to visit it, but I enjoyed a lot the view from there.
While being in the west part of Dover, you can have a great view over the entire town, you can see the front of the Dover Castle, dominating the town from above, you can have a glimpse of the White Cliffs, and you can observe how busy the town’s harbour is, with many ships coming and going all day long.
If you are going to spend some time in the UK I definitely suggest you to put Dover on your bucket list because it will be worth the visit!
See you next time!